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Back button handling

Some devices (e.g. Android) have hardware back buttons. A very common use case is to close the current screen, or the app if there is only one screen in the stack. Another possible use case is to show a confirmation dialog before closing the app.

Child Stack and Child Pages can automatically navigate back when the back button is pressed. All you need to do is to supply the handleBackButton=true argument when you initialize a navigation model.

Similarly, Child Slot can automatically dismiss the child component when the back button is pressed. See the Child Slot documentation page for more information.

Manual back button handling

The back button can be handled manually using BackHandler (comes from Essenty library), which is provided by ComponentContext. The decompose module adds Essenty's back-handler module as api dependency, so you don't need to explicitly add it to your project. Please familiarise yourself with Essenty library, especially with the BackHandler and BackDispatcher.

Usage example

import com.arkivanov.decompose.ComponentContext
import com.arkivanov.essenty.backhandler.BackCallback

class SomeComponent(
    componentContext: ComponentContext
) : ComponentContext by componentContext {

    private val backCallback = BackCallback { /* Handle the back button */ }

    init {

    private fun updateBackCallback() {
        // Set isEnabled to true if you want to override the back button
        backCallback.isEnabled = true // or false

Callback order

By default, registered callbacks are checked in reverse order, the last registered enabled callback is called first. Various navigation models may also register back button callbacks, e.g. Child Stack uses BackHandler to automatically pop the stack on back button press. If you want your callback to be called first, make sure to register it as later as possible. Similarly, if you want your callback to be called last, make sure to register it as early as possible.

It is also possible to specify a priority for your back callback.

// This will make sure your callback is always called first
private val backCallback = BackCallback(priority = Int.MAX_VALUE) { ... }

// This will make sure your callback is always called last
private val backCallback = BackCallback(priority = Int.MIN_VALUE) { ... }

Predictive Back Gesture

Decompose experimentally supports the new Android Predictive Back Gesture, not only on Android. The UI part is covered by Compose extensions, please see the related docs.

Back button handling in Compose

By default, Decompose doesn't propagate LocalOnBackPressedDispatcherOwner from Jetpack activity-compose library. Therefore, using BackHandler {} Composable API from activity-compose will register the callback in the root OnBackPressedDispatcher. This will cause the Composable handler to always intercept the back button, regardless of the component hierarchy.

If you are using BackHandler from Jetpack activity-compose library, make sure that it's enabled only when needed. This can be done by supplying the enabled argument. See the official docs for more information.

Another approach is to use the BackHandler provided by Essenty library and implemented for you by Decompose. Expose BackHandler from your component and register/unregister the callback in your Composable function.

The component interface
import com.arkivanov.essenty.backhandler.BackHandlerOwner

interface SomeComponent : BackHandlerOwner {
    // Omitted code
Implementing the component
class DefaultSomeComponent(
    componentContext: ComponentContext,
) : ComponentContext by componentContext {
    // No need to implement BackHandlerOwner interface, already implemented by ComponentContext
Custom BackHandler Composable API
import androidx.compose.runtime.Composable
import androidx.compose.runtime.DisposableEffect
import androidx.compose.runtime.SideEffect
import androidx.compose.runtime.getValue
import androidx.compose.runtime.remember
import androidx.compose.runtime.rememberUpdatedState
import com.arkivanov.essenty.backhandler.BackCallback
import com.arkivanov.essenty.backhandler.BackHandler

fun BackHandler(backHandler: BackHandler, isEnabled: Boolean = true, onBack: () -> Unit) {
    val currentOnBack by rememberUpdatedState(onBack)

    val callback =
        remember {
            BackCallback(isEnabled = isEnabled) {

    SideEffect { callback.isEnabled = isEnabled }

    DisposableEffect(backHandler) {
        onDispose { backHandler.unregister(callback) }

Now we can use the newly created BackHandler Composable API similarly to the one provided by Jetpack.

import androidx.compose.runtime.Composable

fun SomeContent(component: SomeComponent) {
    BackHandler(backHandler = component.backHandler) {
        // Handle the back button here